Monday, November 05, 2007
A Little Chickadee
The bird feeders at the cabin were busy this weekend. I saw most of the usual winter suspects. This little fellow is a black-capped chickadee with a seed in his beak. In this area, I’m supposed to be politically correct and refer to the chickadees I see as "chickadee species," since both Carolina and black-capped chickadees are present and will interbreed. (And since they do, doesn’t this make them a single species? But I digress.) Just to be clear, I am not now, nor have I ever been politically correct, so I’m saying this cute little one is a black-capped chickadee.
I do have Carolina chickadees at the feeders too, though they are still in the minority (but a growing minority). When I get a good photo of one of those I’ll post it so we can compare. The reasons I’m calling this little cutie a black-capped chickadee is 1) because its white face patch continues as bright white throughout the patch. In Carolina chickadees, the white patch fades to a pale gray past the eye. 2) This fellow also has a nice amount of white on the wing edgings. White wing edgings are in short supply on Carolinas. 3) The bird is quite buffy on its belly, which you can only just see a tiny bit around its legs. The Carolinas are pretty uniformly gray underneath, with little or no buffy color.
You might also notice the background of this photo. Yes, there’s yellow back there, but also quite a bit of green, which is completely atypical for November 4 (when I took this photo). I’ve never known of any year where the leaves weren’t completely down by November 1. But this year, not only are many not down yet, many are even still green!
The leaf change has come in stages this year. At the moment I’m in stage four, and I suspect there will be at least one more to come. By stages I mean that some leaves turn color, then a good wind will come along and all those leaves will drop. What’s left are leaves that are still green. Late last week it looked like late August or mid-September again for a few days. In a normal year, there are no "stages." The leaves simply all turn color and drop within a week a so, gone with October’s end. Even the local weatherman remarked on the leaves this morning—the first time I’ve heard anyone else mention it or even notice it locally.
The temperature is near normal for November, at the moment. I’m guessing the record warmth in October is the culprit for the weird and late leaf drop this year. Who know what will happen next? I’m trying to hold out hope for a decent winter, but I’m not sure I really believe it will happen anymore.